NaNoWriMo Check-In: After the Fact

NaNo has officially come to an end (duh, Audra, it’s been like a week, where have you been?). I’ve been here, in my chair, trying to keep up the writing habit on another project.

Here’s the thing. I WON NANO! Again. It’s such a good feeling. Although my story isn’t close to being done and I’m now seeing that the main thrust of the story  might not be working at all…I still did it. I wrote fifty thousand words in one month. FIFTY THOUSAND. 

I feel really good about that. I mean, I take a lot of pride in that fact. No, you can’t read it. No, I can’t even really pin down what it’s about. Doesn’t mean I’m not over the moon about finishing what I set out to do. 

Because more than just writing a novel, NaNo, for me, is a chance to prove to myself that I can make a hard goal and stick to it for one month. It means when I look at other goals or habits I want to create, I know I can do anything for one month. 

My brain is currently fried on writing – I lost momentum with the new project and have taken a few days off, but I wanted to drop an update and brag a bit. 

I won NaNo. 

Preptober; or, the art of procrastinating by blog

Preptober is a pretty awesome time. For one thing, it takes place in October, one of my favorite months since I love Halloween so much.

Preptober is the name given to October for those of us who take part in the yearly madness that is NaNoWriMo (short for National Novel Writing Month – we’re fond of acronyms, can you tell we’re wordsmiths?). It’s a time when, supposedly, we’re hard at work outlining scenes, sketching characters, pinning location pictures, and gathering snacks and rewards for the month ahead.

In practice, everyone’s preptober looks a little different. Since I started doing NaNo in Korea and did the next two there as well, my prepping was fairly limited in scope, as my job was pretty demanding. I thought about my story a lot and wrote some vague notes and scene sketches, but that was about it. I saved most of my planning for when I needed it in my writing.

This year, being back in America and with a much less stressful job, I decided to kick it up a notch.

I printed out calendars, checklists, got some rewards planned (like real ones, not just cheesy ones), and even printed off an announcement of my novel on the NYT bestsellers list, as recommended somewhere. That was fun. It’s hanging on my bulletin board, a little embarrassed, but still pretty neat.

And….it’s actually going okay. I’ve gotten further into planning than I ever have pre-November. I’m able to actually visualize and distinguish my two main characters from each other, a feat in itself, and have a solid grasp on their story arcs.

I have location notes, an overall plotline, some incidental characters, and even some useless background information.

Here’s What I’ve Learned

Preptober is never going to be as productive as you want. You can watch all the videos, print out all the calendars and checklists and schedule away, and life will intervene. In case I forgot, life happens. Oh, right.

No checklist has everything you need, and a lot of them have stuff you don’t need. Cross those off and continue. Don’t get into a check-mark-induced tizzy because you didn’t actually do the thing you didn’t need to do and can’t check it off. Just check it off anyway. Weirdo.

Organizing your bulletin board of prep materials does not actually count as prepping. Right.

Blogging about preptober doesn’t actually count as prepping either. Stop it. Stop it now.

What I Used

I’ll admit, I kind of went nuts, and some of this stuff is redundant, and I certainly didn’t complete everything, but here it is anyway. Use it well, friends.

Huh. When it’s all laid out, I didn’t use much, did I? Well, it’s still about three more things than I used last year.

To all my fellow NaNo-ers, good luck. To everyone dealing with a NaNo-er, good luck to you too.


There was this awesome year I did this…

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…and I may do it again this year. I haven’t yet though. I mean, that one was just so perfect…

I Want to Be An Author

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I am a writer. I write. I want to be an Author. A published writer. I don’t know if everyone would agree with the distinction, but I like it.

I didn’t always seriously want to be one. I mean, I dabbled in wanting to be one, all the while feverishly writing something every year, whether it was a story, a blog, or a journal, but I only decided a couple of years ago.

In fact, it was just after I finished my first NaNo month in 2015. I’d just moved to Korea, had no hobbies or friends, and decided to use all my spare time that November to see if I could finish a story. I’d never done that before. My computers and notebooks were full of scenes and half-finished stories, but I had never finished one. So I tried, and did it.

After that, it was a short jog from realizing I could finish a story to deciding I’d like to keep finishing stories for the rest of my life.

After I realized I was a multipotentialite, the dream expanded a bit to allow for other things around it, but writing has always been my main passion.

Then began the real work. In the two years since deciding, I’ve written one more book and started countless others, I’ve gotten a LOT better at it, I’ve read books on writing and books about writers, and I’ve kept up a journal and this blog to keep me writing even when I’m not working on a story.

I hope to publish soon, some kind of small fantasy story that won’t be extremely good but will be PUBLISHED. Then that hurdle will be over and I can move on to the next story, which will be better, and so on and forever.

I’m declaring it now. I want to be an Author. I don’t care about being famous, or making lots of money. I am putting my bar low. I want to be published on Amazon and have my name on a website under a book title. I want to be able to tell people, “Yeah, I’ve published a book. Yeah, it’s called…”

What’s your declaration?


a poem: here and elsewhere

When I read or write, I am there and elsewhere.
I am there, sitting or lying, reading or writing.
There in my body, I am.
But I am also elsewhere, and sometimes I don’t recognize myself at all.
I don’t see my hands as part of me. They are ghosts, making words.
The words themselves are more real than the sounds or black shapes that make them.
The flow of energy that words create is the only real force.
The flashes of feelings and images half-formed in my head as I read are more real than the texture of the pages or the tapping of my finger against the screen.
It’s a strange sensation, to be here and elsewhere. To be not entirely in myself.


Annual Writing Review 2017

This is an assessment of all the writing I did in 2017.

I got this idea from Rachel Geisel, a woman whose blog I love, and whose Writer’s DNA course was fantastic. She got the idea originally from Nicole Gulotta, so it’s a long cycle of paying-it-forward. I love when bloggers do that.

My writing year of 2017 was…interesting, as I’m sure could be said about any writing year. Some things went well, some things did not. I did the whole free download separately, but here’s an overview of my year.

Let’s break it down.

What I Wrote

Creatively: This blog, parts of a fantasy novel, a horror novel, a military/historical novel, many poems (10+), journal (almost every day, hurray!)

Work-related: Lesson plans, PPTs, began template and information for teacher handbook, safety protocols, procedures for; summer camp, filling out forms

Edited: Work procedures, work announcements, work newsletter, memoirs for a friend, creative material for a family member, several posts on Scribophile

What Went Well

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NaNo – I won, third year in a row!

Blogging – I launched it, and wrote several posts I was really proud of. Most of all, I enjoyed it. I love blogging. I’m not in this for the money (of course that would be nice) but I don’t market or advertise or worry too much about that. I just love writing and posting and getting in the community.

Poetry – I’ve started writing, for lack of a better word, poetry. I have no reason to do this, but I wanted to, so I made that my reason. I have an idea to delve into the hows and mechanics of it later, but for now, I’m thoroughly enjoying myself. And joy is what writing is to me. How awesome is that?

Craft Study: I read a bunch of really good books on writing. I’ll make a list sometime in the future, but reading about the craft really helped me. I’ve never believed you can just sit down and write well, but that practice and refining and honing writing is a skill like any other. I also did a brief novel-study session that I’m excited to try again; it involves reading novels you love and analyzing them, first broadly and then scene by scene to get a feel for why the story works (or where it doesn’t). Hello, homework that requires reading? Yes, please.

I found out that I write best in the morning and around seven at night. I used Scrivener almost exclusively for creative work, and it’s been incredible.

What Could Have Gone Better

NaNo – I wrote fifty thousand words, but they weren’t all for one story, or even all in story. I counted my journaling as well since I decided to be a rebel this year. But honestly, the health issues happening meant I couldn’t focus easily, and journaling was therapeutic, so I counted that as slightly more important than focusing on one story. But still, fifty thousand words…

Blogging – It could always be better. I stopped entirely after my health crisis, which is to be expected. And I would like a better “author” blurb and my about page always gives me nightmares, but published is better than perfect, and it’s live and published.

Creative Writing: I left all those novels undone. Some half done, some mostly done, some in their infancy. I didn’t finish another book this past year. I’d like to pick some of them back up, but some of them I realized weren’t the story I was trying to tell, so they’ll be let go.

Community: I didn’t use Scribophile as much as I would have liked. I did a few critiques and received a few that were insanely helpful, but I couldn’t keep it up. I also tried getting a partner, but that petered out after a while as well. I wanted to join a writing circle, but there wasn’t a decent one around my area in Korea. This year, I hope to find a writing circle for real, face-to-face feedback and interaction with other writers. I need feedback and accountability.

Looking Ahead

For 2018, my main writing goals are:

  • Write every day* – blog AND creative
  • Feel good about what I write, even sucky first drafts
  • Join a writing group
  • Get more feedback – via group or some site like Scribophile or Fictionpress
  • Edit a story in full, on paper (didn’t have access to a printer in Korea so this one will be fun!)
  • Finish more stories
  • Write more short stories
  • Write more poetry
  • Read more about the craft

If you’re a writer, I strongly recommend doing Nicole’s Review. It’s been enlightening and uplifting to actually assess my writing year, even the parts that didn’t go as planned.

Happy writing!


*I’ve set my goal at fifty words a day, a very small number by most standards. Usually, I end up writing anywhere from 500-1000 naturally, but I’ve been doing mini-habits, the technique created by Stephen Guise in his book, Mini-Habits, and this way, on the days when I can barely function, I know I can succeed at my goal by writing just fifty words. Always go for the win.

Read my review for Guise’s latest book, How to Be an Imperfectionist, here.